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SPFL IN LOAN ABOUT-TURN

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THE SPFL have admitted advancing cash payments worth £300,000 to two Premiership clubs in the summer of 2016.

The Hampden chiefs have been under fire from Rangers who have accused them of failing to inform financially-stricken outfits that money could be paid out without the need to crown Celtic champions and relegate Hearts.

In a Q&A this week the organisation’s chairman Murdoch MacLennan, 71, branded the issue a “red herring” as he insisted the last loan to a club occurred seven years ago. That contradicted a claim from Tynecastle owner Ann Budge that a temporary payment was made to a club during her time on the board.

The Daily Mail today claimed to have seen a note in the SPFL’s accounts of May 2017 under ‘Related party transactions and directors’ interests’, which revealed that ‘two advances on club payments were made to SPFL clubs totalling £300,000’.

MONEY TALKS…Murdoch MacLennan spoke of loan deal.

The payments related to a fixtures row in June 2016 when Partick Thistle joined Motherwell and Hamilton Accies in expressing anger at being allocated just one home game each against Celtic and Rangers.

At the same time, Dundee, Inverness Caley Thistle and Hearts were pencilled in for a guaranteed three home fixtures against the Glasgow giants; a discrepancy the Firhill club insisted would leave them out of pocket.

The SPFL say that they “advanced” rather than loaned £150,000 each to two of the clubs after one team – believed to be Celtic – agreeing to defer £300,000 of their distribution money until later in the year.

While loans are more time-consuming than advances due to due diligence and credit checks, the confirmation of payments to two clubs in 2016 is unlikely to appease anger centred on the SPFL’s insistence on linking end-of-season pay-outs to titles and relegation.

League chiefs have admitted making loans and advances to individual clubs in the past, but claim that lending £9.3million to 42 clubs was unfeasible now.

In the meantime, an emergency meeting of  the top flight’s 12 clubs yesterday discussed proposals to end the current Premiership campaign.

Hosted by Dave Cormack, the Aberdeen chairman said: “This was a very productive two hour meeting which captured the various thoughts on completing the current season and where each club stands in relation to league reconstruction.

“Crucially, there was constructive discussion on how and when football in Scotland could resume, with safety and well-being of players and fans being a key priority, along with ensuring the survival and sustainability of Scottish football.

“Feedback from this meeting is being communicated to the SPFL. The group is planning to meet again next week.”

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Acclaimed author Alex Gordon wrote the biography of Scotland international legend Denis Law, entitled 'King and Country'. He is a former columnist with World Soccer magazine and Scottish correspondent of respected European journal L'Equipe.

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